Apparently, Kossacks (see here, here and here) and others in wwwLand aren’t the only folks to think September 11 would be a rotten choice for a hearing on how well General David Petraeus thinks the temporary escalation of U.S. troops is doing to stabilize what used to be Iraq.
Having heard that the general might make his presentation to Congress that day, Nancy Pelosi is objecting, according to Mike Viqueira of MSNBC, who noted that "sources" in the Speaker’s office say she views that anniversary as "a sacred day." She’s asking that the hearing date be changed. The same sources said the September 11 date hasn’t yet been approved by House Democratic leaders, despite what some media outlets have announced.
That’s good to hear. Presumably, the Speaker has been on the phone to Senator Levin to express her concerns. I tried today by phone to learn whether Levin was considering a date change, but I couldn’t get past the gatekeeper, despite my sparkling Daily Kos credentials.
From the beginning, it should have been a no-brainer not to play into the hands of the White House on this matter, giving the President an opportunity to combine 9/11 and Iraq 50 times in the same anniversary speech. There were a mere 14 references to Iraq in his 9/11 address last year. But if Mister Bush can be counted upon to do one single thing well, it’s to top his previous far-fetcheries in describing the rationale for the actions he and his mentors and minions and enablers in both parties have visited upon Iraq since it was decided on September 12 six years ago that September 11 offered the perfect 21st Century "Pearl Harbor" opportunity with which to shock and awe and cow any domestic opposition to the NeoCon prescription for world...uh...hegemony.
Cynical politicians, of course, have always used national observances for cynical purposes. They stand on the dais draped in the flag beside veterans in uniform on July 4, yet turn right around and order the soldiers who will someday be veterans to ride down the bonus marchers. Or get tears in their eyes at ceremonies in Arlington on Memorial Day and not flinch a day or so later when called upon, say, to reject veterans’ pleas to take seriously the after-effects of Agent Orange and PTSD. Everybody can come up with her own examples.
No surprise to anyone then that September 11 has likewise been cynically used. The Cheney-Bush regime, its enablers in Congress and the pundithuggery will never stop saying that 9/11 and Iraq are linked. Propagandists don’t give up on what works. Thanks to their efforts, 41% of Americans still believe that the two were intimately connected. This being so, savvy Democrats ought to avoid setting themselves up as marks for the White House grifters by giving them the hearing date they’re gleefully rubbing their palms over.
Time constraints don’t offer much choice because the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007 requires that before the September 15 deadline for reporting on how the splurge is going, General Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker must meet in both open and closed sessions of the relevant congressional committees to testify.
Does this strike you as backward as it does me? Wouldn’t it be helpful to be able to read the report, then hear the testimony? Wouldn’t it be helpful to have the unclassified versions of the report available for media and citizens, including bloggers and us dirty f’n hippies, to read so that we might suggest a line of questioning before those hearings, rather than afterward, when such suggestions get labeled Monday-morning quarterbacking?
It’s too late now to amend the reporting dates (or any other crappy aspects of the Troop Readiness Act), so we’re stuck. Left with Monday, September 10, or Wednesday, September 12. But at sundown Wednesday, Rosh Hashanah begins, and neither the House nor the Senate will be in session on September 13 or 14 because of that holiday.
It’s not that the report is a big deal. We all know what’s going to be in it. A little of this, a little of that, allusions to signs of progress, "concern" about remaining problems, and the call to hang in there for another six months, twelve months, eighteen months, just as NeoCon Fred Kagan and retired General David Keane proposed last December when they recommended the splurge in the first place.
In other words, another episode in the 53-month-long charade. A spectacle only valuable for providing a few more details about how deeply loathsome and contemptible the Cheney-Bush regime truly is. However, timing matters. And the least the Democratic leadership can do – the majority leadership, it should be remembered – is to use its calendar power to ensure that this sideshow not allow the White House to further taint the memory of September 11 by deploying it as a springboard for another round of fabrications and fakery about why the U.S. is in Iraq.
[wyvern warned us about this back in May with Word to Elected Officials: Treat Sept. 11, 2007 with Respect.]